16 Day Te Wai Pounamu
16 Day Te Wai Pounamu
Te Wai Pounamou is the Maori name for New Zealand's South Island. Our unique 16 day self-drive itinerary encircles the entire South Island ensuring you don't miss a thing!
|Tour Type:||Self Drive Tours|
|From:||Wellington to Christchurch|
|Departures:||Jan 2019 - March 2020|
|Price:||From (NZD) $5312 per person|
|Tour Operator:||Relaxing Journeys|
|15 nights accommodation|
|Rental vehicle of your choice|
|2 night stopovers in the Marlborough Sounds, Nelson, Abel Tasman Park & Franz Josef|
|3 night stopover in majestic Queenstown|
|Return water taxis to Marlborough Sounds and Abel Tasman Naional Park accommodation|
|Doubtful Sound Wilderness Excursion|
|See icebergs & glaciers up close on your Tasman Glacier Explorer excursion|
|Scenic Interislander Ferry Cruise|
|Admissions outlined in the Itinerary|
|Airport transfers to/from your accommodation|
Prices are per person based on twin-share, and are subject to availability. Prices are correct at the time of submission but are subject to change without notice. Valid for travel January 2019 – March 2020. Blackout periods may apply. A non-refundable deposit of $500 per person is required at time of booking.
Click here for our full terms and conditions.
Click on the prices below to enquire.
* Prices shown are per person (based on two people travelling).
* 2 Bedroom Motel pricing also available with Exclusive Specials. Please request a quote for prices.
Day by Day Tour Itinerary
“Haere Mai” Welcome to Wellington. Nestled in green hills and within a protective harbour, the capital city of Wellington has a laid back vibe yet offers some of the best shopping, arts and nightlife in the country. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your accommodation, the remainder of the day at leisure to explore.
You will be transferred to the ferry terminal where you will join the Interislander ferry ready to cross the Cook Strait to the South Island. Where will you sit? Inside or outside? Try to vary your experience if you can, as some of the sights are better seen without the barrier of a window – watch as boats bob on Wellington harbour, disappearing in the distance as you head into the majestic Marlborough Sounds, chugging away to Picton.
Once you’re on dry land again, pick up a rental car and journey to Havelock, a small town famed for its Green Shell Mussels. Between bites to eat, explore the forest glades of Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve; or for something a little more adventurous, ascend via the ridgeline to a 417m peak. (2 nights)
A day to relax and marvel at the magic that is the Marlborough Sounds. Resort staff will share their love of the Sounds with you through the range of water and nature based experiences they put at your fingertips.
The wide beach access is great for fishing, boating, sailing, swimming and sea-kayaking as well as a wealth of walks and meanderings in the immediate vicinity. A massage or spa treatment at your resort will complete your relaxation.
Return to Picton this morning by water taxi. On arrival, collect your rental car and proceed to Nelson at your leisure. The region, which is the sunniest in New Zealand, has for many years attracted residents who love to use their imagination.
There are more than 350 working artists and craftspeople living in Nelson, including traditional and contemporary Maori artists. From the northern edge of the Southern Alps across the fertile plains and out to a great sweep of beaches, Nelson is beautifully laid out under a generous sun that delivers New Zealand’s highest sunshine hours.
This morning drive to Marahau to connect with the Aqua taxi transfer to Awaroa Lodge. Located at the quiet northern end of Abel Tasman National Park, it is the perfect vantage point to explore the famous Abel Tasman Coastal Track – the most beautiful of all New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’. (2 nights)
Today there is time to explore what the Abel Tamsan National Park has to offer. Choose a walk from a few minutes to several hours, on any section of the Abel Tasman Coast Track.
Golden sand beaches, native forest, spectacular coastal views and swimming opportunities in calm, azure waters are all highlights of the park. Every journey is unique from paddling the coastline by sea kayak to walking through native forests and across vast coastal inlets to secluded bays of golden sands and turquoise waters.
Return today by water taxi to Marahau and collect your rental car. Continue on to Nelson and enjoy an afternoon relaxing in this charming city, based on a harbour that is home to the country’s busiest fishing port.
There are more than 300 working artists and craftspeople living in Nelson, traditional, contemporary and Maori. Visit their studios and find a unique piece to take home with you. Or just relax. Sit in the sun, sip a wine from one of the local vineyards, and dine on the famous Nelson Bay scallops.
Head south down State Highway 6 through Murchison, making your way to the West Coast. The Murchison Skyline Walkway zigzags through mixed beech and podocarp forest, native ferns, and bracken and broom covered slopes on the outskirts of Murchison – it’s worth breaking your journey here for the 90 minute walk before you navigate the awesome Buller Gorge.
At Hawks Crag, the road has been hacked out of solid rock – be ready for the dramatic overhang, lending shade and character to the route. The road to Punakaiki hugs the coast, providing spectacular views of wild beaches and the tempestuous Tasman Sea.
Punakaiki is best known for its Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. The track has many lookouts and areas for fantastic photos to be taken of the Pancake Rocks, Blowholes and the beautiful mountain views.
The best time to visit the blowholes is at high tide when they are at their most powerful. The Truman Track is a short walk worth doing while you’re here – nearing the coast it passes through typical West Coast flax flats before emerging onto a sprawling headland with stunning views up and down the local shoreline.
The road to Greymouth is breathtaking. White capped breakers and rugged rocks on one side, bush-clad mountains on the other side. Travel south along the dramatic West Coast, steeped in history dating back to the gold rush era of the 1800’s.
Enjoy views of the Southern Alps to the east and the Tasman Sea to the west as you make your way to the Glacier townships of Fox and Franz Josef. (2 nights)
There’s lots to explore in this area – you can take your own time walking up to the glacier, going to the Okarito Lagoon, or join a guided walk on the glacier, take a heli-hike adventure, or a scenic flight over both glaciers.
There’s also quad biking through rainforest and riverbeds or even a half hour drive back down to Fox Glacier and Lake Matheson. The Franz Josef Glacier hot pools are open for a hot bathe amongst the rainforest! Let us know if you’d like us to include any of these activities in your itinerary.
Farewell Franz Josef and travel down the West Coast, alongside braided riverbeds, native forests and roadside waterfalls before climbing up over the Haast Pass and through Mount Aspiring National Park.
Stop the car, stretch your legs and drink in the scenery, as impressive mountains touch the sky, remnants of the Ice Age glacial valley. Take your time and drive along the shores of Lakes Hawea, arriving at the action-packed city of Queenstown. (3 nights)
It’s time to make memories in Queenstown, the capital of adrenaline, beauty and local foodie culture. Pick and choose from a long list of adventures – from thrilling funyak tours along the Dart River and horse-riding in Glenorchy, to panning for gold in Arrowtown or taking a tour of Lake Wakatipu via the TSS Earnslaw, there is certainly something for every speed.
Or, if you’re not ready to break the spell of the last few days a scenic walk may do the trick, exploring the diverse range of stunning trails the region delivers in troves.
Queenstown is also a great base from which to explore the Fiordland National Park. Today, leave your car behind and board a luxury glass-roofed coach to the Doubtful Sound.
Travel along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and through the rolling countryside to Manapouri. Then cruise across the crystal waters of Lake Manapouri to West Arm before boarding a coach and crossing the alpine route of Wilmot Pass through some of Fiordland and Doubtful Sound’s most dense rainforest.
On reaching Deep Cove, board a modern catamaran vessel, the Patea Explorer for a three hour cruise exploring the waterways of this serene and isolated fiord. There is plenty of time available to explore points of interest and view the spectacular alpine scenery including waterfalls, rainforest and mountains all the way out to the Tasman Sea.
Doubtful Sound is home to bottlenose dolphins and fur seals, when in season, you may even spot the rare Fiordland crested penguin. An on board nature guide with specialist knowledge of the region’s history, flora and fauna provides detailed interpretation in English with a roving microphone. On the return cruise, the vessel’s engines are turned off and visitors are treated to the ‘sound of silence’.
To experience the best of Doubtful Sound, upgrade to an overnight cruise and instead of returning to Queenstown, stay onboard the Fiordland Navigator. Return to Queenstown by coach the next day. This upgrade package adds an extra day to your itinerary.
Make sure to stop off at the historic and beautiful mining village of Arrowtown today before journeying through the rugged and beautiful landscape of Otago. Cross the Lindis Pass into the Mackenzie Country to arrive at Mt Cook National Park a World Heritage listed site. Mt Cook is Australasia’s highest mountain at 3764 metres. The park covers over 70,000 hectares of breathtaking alpine scenery and is also home to the Tasman Glacier, the longest in the Southern hemisphere (Optional Ski-plane and helicopter flights are available subject to weather conditions).
Experience the Tasman Glacier, New Zealand’s largest, in the most unique way possible. This morning, an experienced guide will whisk you away in a stable MAC Boat to explore the melting ice-face of the Tasman Glacier where you will also get to touch and taste 400-year old icebergs that have been carved into the murky waters of the lake.
Later visit beautiful Lake Tekapo and stop to view the tiny Church of the Good Shepherd, built of local stone and oak in 1935. Leaving the High Country, cross the vast Canterbury Plains to the ‘Garden City’ of Christchurch.
Sadly, your holiday is at an end and you will be returning your car to the airport today for your onward flight. Here, we bid you a fond farewell and hope you leave with many happy memories of your stay in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
There are 13 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 5 out of 5.
New Zealand has a great deal of things to see and do, why not add one of our optional sightseeing activities to your trip. Prices are per adult (we'll adjust your quote for any children).
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Te Wai Pounamou is the Maori name for New Zealand's South Island. Our unique 16 day self-drive itinerary encircles the entire South Island ensuring yo... Read More
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